Reviews | 04 June 2018

Hyundai Kona takes on the Mazda CX-3 and Toyota CH-R

  • Hue Reflections
    1 / 24 Hue Reflections

    They say that a car’s colour is a reflection of its owner’s personality. But when it comes to fun and funky cars like these crossovers, a car’s colour might actually be hinting at its character, too.

    Though it looks green, the Hyundai Kona’s paint job is actually called Acid Yellow. Whatever the name of the paint, the Kona certainly looks zesty and dynamic. And its chunky unpainted fenders aren’t just there to lend it an off-roader vibe, because the Kona is the only contender here with all-wheel-drive.

    The passionate and sporty-looking competitor in this story is the Mazda CX-3, which comes in a shade called Soul Red. It’s the only non-turbo model in this shootout, but it’ll be banking on its 2-litre engine and well-tuned chassis to outshine its competitors.

    Throwing its hat into the ring is the otherworldly Toyota C-HR. Its coupe-like design and sunny yellow paintwork give it the most striking presence, but it’ll also be eager to demonstrate the capabilities of its turbocharged powertrain.

    Which of these colourful crossovers will prove to be the most characterful? Keep reading to find out!

    Read more
  • Hyundai Kona – Engine
    2 / 24 Hyundai Kona – Engine

    Hyundai’s turbocharged 1.6-litre 4-cylinder with 174hp and 265Nm is the most powerful of the trio, offering the strongest low-end torque and quickest century sprint time.

    Read more
  • Mazda CX-3 – Engine
    3 / 24 Mazda CX-3 – Engine

    Mazda’s 2-litre 4-cylinder with 156hp and 204Nm is the only non-turbo motor here. But it’s the most responsive and surprisingly the most efficient, too.

    Read more
  • Toyota C-HR – Engine
    4 / 24 Toyota C-HR – Engine

    Toyota’s turbocharged 1.2-litre 4-cylinder with 114hp and 185Nm has the lowest output, but its smooth-revving nature is second to none.

    Read more
  • Hyundai Kona – Gearbox
    5 / 24 Hyundai Kona – Gearbox

    Kona’s 7-speed dual-clutch transmission performs the fastest gearchanges, but its low-speed response could be faster.

    Read more
  • Mazda CX-3 – Gearbox
    6 / 24 Mazda CX-3 – Gearbox

    CX-3’s 6-speed automatic is the keenest gear-changer, and petrolheads will enjoy playing with the manual override function, which has the -/+ points in the “correct” orientation. The updated model even comes with paddle shifters.

    Read more
  • Toyota C-HR – Gearbox
    7 / 24 Toyota C-HR – Gearbox

    C-HR’s CVT is the most impressive transmission, as it goes about its business in such a creamy and unobtrusive manner that you’d swear it was a regular torque-converter.

    Read more
  • Hyundai Kona – Ride & Handling
    8 / 24 Hyundai Kona – Ride & Handling

    Kona feels the most surefooted thanks to its all-wheel-drive system, which includes an on-demand 4×4 lock function for very slippery surfaces. The Hyundai’s overall ride, though not uncomfortable, is on the firm side.

    Read more
  • Mazda CX-3 – Ride & Handling
    9 / 24 Mazda CX-3 – Ride & Handling

    CX-3’s ride quality is the most balanced, because it manages to retain a degree of pliancy while still delivering the agile handling expected by Mazda drivers.

    Read more
  • Toyota C-HR – Ride & Handling
    10 / 24 Toyota C-HR – Ride & Handling

    C-HR has the quietest and most comfortable ride in this contest, and soaks up anything from speed strips to speed bumps with aplomb.

    Read more
  • Hyundai Kona – Cockpit
    11 / 24 Hyundai Kona – Cockpit

    Kona cockpit is the roomiest and most functional, thanks to the user-friendly controls, numerous connectivity options and wireless smartphone charger. The seat piping, which matches the exterior paintwork, is a nice touch.

    Read more
  • Mazda CX-3 – Cockpit
    12 / 24 Mazda CX-3 – Cockpit

    Mazda CX-3 cockpit feels the most upmarket with its generous leather trimmings, knurled air-con knobs and soft plastics. The infotainment system has the most intuitive menu layout.

    Read more
  • Toyota CH-R – Cockpit
    13 / 24 Toyota CH-R – Cockpit

    Most driver-focussed cockpit features the sportiest front seats and a dashboard that’s angled towards the driver. The relatively tighter confines and steeply raked windscreen add to the coupe-like feel behind the wheel.

    Read more
  • Hyundai Kona – Backseat
    14 / 24 Hyundai Kona – Backseat

    Most spacious backseat is also the most supportive. Kona has the only rear cabin with a centre armrest, and the big doorbins make this space the most practical, too.

    Read more
  • Mazda CX-3 – Backseat
    15 / 24 Mazda CX-3 – Backseat

    Comparatively narrow CX-3 is better for two adults instead of three. The short backrests aren’t ideal for occupants taller than 1.75m, but the well-padded bench ensures that their bums will be seated quite comfortably.

    Read more
  • Toyota C-HR – Backseat
    16 / 24 Toyota C-HR – Backseat

    C-HR’s low roofline makes ingress/egress the trickiest, especially for seniors. However, the bench itself is great for tall folks with large feet, as it has the tallest backrests and the most generous footwell space.

    Read more
  • Hyundai Kona – Meters
    17 / 24 Hyundai Kona – Meters

    Kona’s instrument panel is the most conventional in this company, although few drivers will complain about the big digits, which make the gauges the easiest to read at a glance.

    Read more
  • Mazda CX-3 – Meters
    18 / 24 Mazda CX-3 – Meters

    CX-3’s racecar-like instrument cluster is dominated by a tachometer and is the only unit with an additional head-up display that helps keep the driver’s attention on the road.

    Read more
  • Toyota C-HR – Meters
    19 / 24 Toyota C-HR – Meters

    Deep-set meters of the C-HR cockpit look sporty, but the nicest component in here is the secondary display, which has the sharpest and brightest graphics. The G Monitor, however, is superfluous in a car like this.

    Read more
  • Toyota C-HR – Boot
    20 / 24 Toyota C-HR – Boot

    C-HR’s 316-litre cargo hold is the most useful as it has the most tethering points. Owners with outdoorsy lifestyles will like the underfloor compartment, which is handy for keeping loose items out of sight.

    Read more
  • Mazda CX-3 – Boot
    21 / 24 Mazda CX-3 – Boot

    CX-3’s 240-litre boot is the smallest and has the highest loading point, so it prefers small and light items to big and heavy items. The tiny boot light makes loading/unloading in the dark a bit hard.

    Read more
  • Hyundai Kona – Boot
    22 / 24 Hyundai Kona – Boot

    Kona’s 361-litre boot capacity is the most ideal for heavier cargo as it has the lowest loading point. Smaller things can be easily secured thanks to a standard elastic net.

    Read more
  • 23 / 24

    (Left to right) CX-3’s lengthy fob fits better in a bag than in a pocket, Kona’s device looks the classiest and its buttons are the nicest to press, while the plainness of the C-HR’s key is ironic given the funkiness of the car it unlocks.

    Read more
  • 24 / 24

    Given how Toyota is better known for its bland bread-and-butter cars, the C-HR is nothing short of shocking.

    Even more shocking, however, is the mild performance that belies the C-HR’s wild exterior and driver-oriented cockpit. The C-HR has the most leisurely acceleration and a ride quality that is cushy rather than sporty.

    That said, the C-HR’s turbocharged 1.2-litre is the most refined motor here, while its CVT is the best we’ve tested so far. The C-HR’s only real drawbacks are its low roofline and stiff pricing. But if you want something stylish without having to suffer (too much) for it, then the sunny C-HR is for you.

    Borneo Motors Singapore opens Inchcape Centre

    If you’re passionate about driving, then the Mazda CX-3 is your ride. Its engine revs keenly and its gearbox is always eager to drop a cog or two. We also love the CX-3’s head-up display and excellent infotainment.

    While we love the CX-3’s soul-stirring character and can even live with the higher road tax its 2-litre motor attracts, it’s hard to look past the narrow backseat and small boot, which reduce the car’s overall practicality.

    The most irresistible crossover in this story is the dynamic Hyundai Kona. Toyota may have dared to produce something as shocking as the C-HR, but Hyundai has gone a step further, for the Kona’s character actually matches its exterior hue and design.

    The Kona’s dynamism is backed up by its on-demand all-wheel-drive and wonderful turbocharged 1.6-litre motor, which lets it zip about town with ease. The Kona’s other strengths are its commodious cabin, roomy boot and great onboard connectivity.

    The Kona’s only missteps are its plasticky interior and slightly firm ride, and the $20,000 VES surcharge levied on the Hyundai adversely affects its value-for-money proposition. But these are small penalties to pay for a colourful crossover that out-funks and outruns the competition in this shootout.

    Read more